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Connecting with Ching-In Chen, 2022-24 Hugo House Writer in Residence

We’re so fortunate that both of our fabulous 2022-23 Writers in Residence have chosen to return to work with our org and Fellows cohort another year. With one year under their metaphorical belt and an upcoming class with us this summer quarter, Fungus Poetics: The Zuihitsu, we connected with Poet in Residence Ching-In Chen about their work in the residency thus far, teaching, and more.

Photo Ching In Chen Cred Cassie Mira Nicholson

Interview with Poet in Residence, Ching-In Chen

We’re excited to have you back for another year of residency! How do you envision this second-year building upon the first; how will this second term distinguish itself from the first?

This past year, I enjoyed meeting community members to chat about the writing, editing, publishing, the teaching of writing and the writing life. A community member who worked at a Sno-Isle Library even reached out to ask me to facilitate a youth writing workshop! In this second year, I hope to engage more community members to utilize the Hugo House space and resources via community-based programming.

Tell us about the project/manuscript you’ve been working on during your residency. How has this residency shaped your work, your process, your relationship with writing?

This past year, I was deep in the process of curating a multimedia installation for my collaborative project, “Breathing in a Time of Disaster”, for the Jack Straw Cultural Center’s New Media Gallery and working on a digital exhibit for the show with my main collaborator, Cassie Mira. Even though this project originated from my hybrid writing, much of the work involved working with community members and learning programs like Omeka, which has sometimes felt far from that writing process. Because of this, I appreciated the opportunity to witness the excellent craft talks through the Word Works series as well as the various approaches writers chose to write about the themes in the Hugo House Literary Series because it helped keep me in touch with that part of the creation process.

I’m excited to return to that writing and work on revisions this summer. In addition, I have been in the early stages of a new creative nonfiction project on my trans family–as co-parent to two trans youth– which feels urgent in this time when trans youth are being weaponized. I’m looking forward to making more use of our Writer in Residence office at Hugo House in the next year to work on these two projects.

Tell us about your work with the Fellows cohort. What have you learned from mentoring and coaching throughout your first year, and what are your goals for working with the Fellows during this second year?

I loved working with the Fellows cohort—I found them to be incredibly thoughtful and supportive of each other in a way that was inspiring to witness. As a teacher, I don’t often get the opportunity to be in conversation with a longer project taking shape with the same cohort and I enjoyed reading and thinking about these projects over their development. The Fellows this year were also sharp readers of each other’s work and I learned so much from their careful insights into each other’s work. 

My goals for this incoming cohort of Fellows is to create a supportive and generative space for their projects. I’m excited that many of them are working on hybrid and multi-media projects!

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading with an eye towards writing a longer hybrid prose project as well as thinking about which books I might want to teach next year. I’m one of those readers who reads many things at the same time in delicious tiny bits, depending on what kind of mood I’m in. 

I just finished Billy-Ray Belcourt’s A Minor Chorus and am currently reading Tsering Yangzom Lama’s We Measure the Earth With Our Bodies, Steffani Jemison’s a rock a river a street, Anastacia-Reneé’s Side Notes from the Archivist, Raquel Gutiérrez’s Brown Neon, Fatimah Asghar’s When We Were Sisters, Lars Horn’s Voice of the Fish, Camille Roy’s Honey Mine, Tanya Tagaq’s Split Tooth and the Wa N Wari anthology, Joy Has a Sound: Black Sonic Visions. And always looking for more book recommendations! 🙂

You’re also teaching a class with us this summer! Tell us about the class and what excites you about the topic.

I’m teaching a class on the zuihitsu form, which is a Japanese hybrid form which is between poetry and essay and operates on intuition, leaps of association and juxtaposition. I love thinking and experimenting with this form because I think it holds space for a lot of the messier emotions like grief and anger. I also love that it’s a fundamentally genrequeer form!

Thank you so much to our Writer in Residence, Ching-In Chen, for sharing with us and our community what you’ve been learning and gleaning from your experience as a Hugo House Writer in Residence!


Learn more about Ching-In’s work at Hugo House:

Learn more about Ching-In’s residency and schedule a consultation with them »
Register now for their upcoming class on Aug. 26, Fungus Poetics: The Zuihitsu »


Learn more about Ching-In Chen:

Instagram: @chinginchen
Twitter: @chinginchen